|Career Spotlight: Jeff Lafata - Founder, EPIC (Empowering People for Inclusive Communities)|
Jeff Lafata '00, '01 • Founder of EPIC, Empowering People for Inclusive Communities
Jeff Lafata and Melanie (Figueiredo) Axman were teammates and corps members in City Year Boston on the Compaq Computer team, in 2000. In this Alumni Spotlight, Melanie interviews Jeff about the impact of their time serving, as well as Jeff’s latest accomplishment: the founding of his nonprofit EPIC.
Empowering People for Inclusive Communities (EPIC) prepares
young people with disabilities to be actively engaged community leaders through
education, leadership development and community service.
What skills and abilities did you discover about your self through City Year that led to your current success?
My first year, I learned how to deal with the challenges on our team, and the range of personalities that created varying dynamics. That experience taught me how to better relate to others, and how to embark on a more collaborative approach.
Becoming the Service Leader on the Reebok Social Justice Team during my second year at City Year, taught me to not only lead to further my passions, but to be entrepreneurial in my thinking – to create opportunities where they don’t currently exist for the community.
Talk about how your City Year service established the foundation for EPIC?
Within my City Year experience, there are two things that helped get me where I am. At the Nathan Hale School, being able to work in a classroom for students with disabilities was my first full time exposure to this demographic. Through my time with them, I was really able to see their potential, and when given the right tools, mentoring and resources, where they could go in their future.
My second year in City Year, leading the social justice
curriculum team formed much of the behind-the-scenes foundation for EPIC: supervising
my team, curriculum development and training facilitation are all tools I still
Since City Year, how has your career path readied you to take on this role?
I’ve dedicated myself to the disability community, since my initial experience with this group in City Year. I’ve worked in various capacities at organizations such as Perkins School for the Blind, North Suffolk Mental Health Association, Partners for Youth with Disabilities and Triangle Inc.
Within my various roles, one thing that has been consistent
is the level of disengagement that this group has had from the community and
the lack in leadership development programming for young people with disabilities.
I got to the point where I had to create that opportunity for this group to
lead, so that everyone could see what amazing leaders these young people are. The community service component in EPIC
really brought me back to City Year because I see serving as a great way to
develop leadership skills.
How can City Year alumni become involved?
We would love to have more participation from the alumni community. We are currently growing EPIC and seeking volunteers, service projects, funding avenues, and support from the leadership within the alumni network. We presently have City Year alumni sitting on EPIC’s Advisory Board, and welcome participation from others.
To be a part of this epic movement, just donate 20 dollars in the next 20 days leading up to the launch of the Service Warriors program. All funds raised will go towards events and supplies for the Service Warriors and donations are tax deductible through EPIC’s fiscal sponsor Triangle, inc. Don’t have 20 bucks? That’s totally fine! A donation in any amount will be a huge help as we get this epic program off the ground.
After making your donation, please spread word about EPIC, our Service Warriors and the 20 Dollars | 20 Days fundraiser! Copy and paste the comment below into your Facebook status, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, blog, and any other networks you may be a part of.
Click here to donate.
To view more Alumni Pathways, click here.